Stars in Stereo was founded by megabuzz Hoppus pet project City (Comma) State’s former members Justin Siegel, Jordan McGraw, Keith Varon and Drew Langan. Their latest addition, vocal powerhouse Bec Holland, has rounded out the group’s alterna rock/electronic sound and propelled the new band onto a Used tour commencing this week with a full-length to follow. Jordan and Drew were nice enough to spare me a few moments of their time this week to help us learn what SIS is all about.
I was just previewing the new song, “The Broken” – I’m loving it. So we’ve got a brand new band, you guys have barely been a band, what, a year, and you’re already going on tour with The Used, that’s crazy.
We’re excited, but you made it sound absurd.
I know, right? “How did this happen?” she says. No actually, just for a little background for the readers, this band was actually formed out of the ashes of another, which was short-lived as well. This band has had a very short run, and you’ve done a lot with it already. The band was originally called City (Comma) State and started in 2010 and now, two years later, is Stars in Stereo about to hit a tour. What else have you got coming up this year?
We’re starting out with this tour and our plan is to keep going. We want to be road rats; we want to live on the road forever and play for everybody and build our fanbase up; really do this the right way.
What’s really funny about new bands is that everyone really loves each other and can’t wait to be stuck in a traveling metal tube together when you start, and then what you hit around the ten-year mark, you’re like “Get away from me, I want my own bus.”
laughing) No, we all get along extremely well.
We (Jordan, Drew and Frogger) already live together, so we’ve past the point of “I fucking hate you, get out of my face.”
You already did that ahead of time.
Yeah, we’re onto the like older brother stage with everybody, and we rehearse every night for at least three hours. We all spend way too much time together, so lock us in a bus and we’re perfectly happy.
That’s one of the benefits of living together, you can rehearse whenever the fuck you want. Do you wake each other up in the middle of the fucking night “Dude, get up, I’ve got an idea!”
Well, we all write, so we’ll all kinda come to each other with ideas. Once you’re there, we’ll lock you in the room and not let you out until we finish. We’ll let you finish sleeping, but once you’re awake, you’re going to be with us.
That’s it, there’s no escaping. So you have a new singer, Beca – how is she adapting to this “We never do anything apart” lifestyle you’ve got going?
She’s amazing! We like to consider this project as a whole new thing. We completely broke everything down from scratch, and the reason that the four of us are still in a band is because when we were setting this up, we couldn’t think of a better drummer, we couldn’t think of a better bass player, we couldn’t think of a better guitar player and I kind of slipped in under the radar.
You were like “I…I thought I’d help out…yeah…I’m just going to kind of not leave again, is that cool? Good.”
Exactly. We all used my phone.
I don’t want to get into personal issues from the past – and it is the past – but it’s funny how sometimes, new blood can really change things.
Yeah, we kind of came into it with a fresh mindset. We just wanted to make music that we were all fucking stoked on and be proud to present to everybody, you know? So when we found Becc, it was like “No shit, she’s going to be our singer, why wouldn’t she be?”
She is pretty badass.
She’s amazing. I think it’s fair to say that we started this with a very specific intention, which is not exactly how we did the last thing. We knew exactly what kind of music we wanted to write and it was like “Let’s do this right” and we haven’t stopped.
Sometimes I think that you have to have a false start before you can actually do what you were supposed to do the whole time. I know people are really hard on you in the industry, but I think you need kind of a disaster first, like get it out the way.
We were proud of what we did with CCS and we were excited to playing for everybody, but once we broke it down and rebuilt ourselves, everybody was perfectly happy calling SIS our band, you know? It was just perfect. I can’t tell you how excited we are to finally get in front of people and just show them what we’ve been working so hard on.
Because people have only heard the one song, they have no idea what they’re going to get.
They’re going to get a fucking party! I think you’ll all be pleasantly surprised.
Are you expecting to have fans from the other band turning up curious as to what’s happening now or do you think you’ll be starting from scratch?
I think it’s a little bit of both. People who follow us individually on twitter and have maintained that kind of…I don’t know, is fanship a word? Those fans who have maintained that kind of devotion, I think they’re going to be stoked on the music and really happy, but I think there’s going to be a whole new category of people who might have said “Whatever” or didn’t hear about us before are going to hear this and be like “Oh, fuck yeah, this is awesome.” And I think a lot of that is going to come from the fact that we’re, you know…you just can’t fake being excited about what you’re doing and so the fact that we’re going to put everything that we have into it, at least a little bit of that’s going to rub off on the crowd, and plus the songs are fucking awesome, if I may say so myself.
Well, you may! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what we can expect, what flavor of tune, so to speak, that you’ve been jamming on?
The Broken” is kind of our mission statement, so that’s kind of the baseline for what the rest of the album is going to sound like. We do go a little harder and then we get a little softer, a little weirder, but all in all, it’s that vibe. We’re visually driven; we want people to be able to close their eyes and picture…maybe not what we would picture…but kind of write a movie to themselves in their head, and connect with it – see it the way that they want to see it. So, we’ve been really conscious of making positive songs, just something that you can have a good time listening to.
We’ve incorporated a bit of an electronic element, but the cinematic thing, we’ve all locked onto it and pushed it within ourselves when we’re writing.
Drew, as a drummer, how do you feel about electronically driven songs, are you in favor? Are you like “Oh good, I get to take a break” or is it kind of like “This sucks?”
I find a very happy medium. I can do things on drums which can’t be duplicated electronically, so the two actually complement each other as opposed to one stepping on the other’s toes.
Now how will that translate live, will you use a keyboard or will you just have a backing track?
We play with some tracks. Anything that we can’t play, we’re not afraid to put it on a track. It’s part of the song, part of what we do. We program it at the studio – us and the producer – we definitely want it to be a part of our show.
Now who’s producing this go-round?
Mike Green did our album – he’s worked with All Time Low and Paramore.
And when can we expect to get some new tunes out of you guys formally that we can buy?
Well, “The Broken” is going to go on iTunes pretty soon, and we’re going to release another song called “??? Romance” – we’re going to put that up on our website and then we’ll be releasing one more before the first show.
Will you be doing videos?
We just filmed our first video for “The Broken.” We put in an eighteen hour day and got it all done in one day. It’s being edited and put together right now.
What’s the concept for the video?
I’ll leave you a little bit to be surprised with, but it’s touching on the fact that people let their problems take them over and hold them captive as opposed to rising up and seeing that everybody has their problems, whether they’re the same as yours or not. We’ve got our “Broken” girl and she portrays that in a very interesting way, it’s cool. I was very stoked to see what she was like on camera; we’re very proud to show everybody.
You did say that you were visual, so I’m excited to see what you’ve come up with. What will you be doing after The Used tour?
Well, the album is done, so we’re just waiting for the perfect moment to throw it at everybody. We want people to get excited about the live show first, then get as excited as we are about the album coming out, which won’t be too long after this tour.
That’s a pretty good approach. I find that I’m way more interested in a cd after I’ve seen what somebody’s got live than the other way around.
Yeah, we take a lot of pride in how we play live and how much we put into it. We want people to come and see us and get excited about our music, tell all of their friends “Wow, these guys are amazing.” Or not, you know, but we put so much energy into our performance and we want people to see that before the album comes out.
What else are you looking forward to this tour, besides picking up fans?
I’m a huge Used fan; I’ve been listening to The Used since their first album. I’m overly excited to just sit and watch them from the side of the stage every night.
They’re pretty nice guys too.
Dead Sara as well. We went and saw them at the Warped Tour kickoff and they blew our minds – they’re amazing.
So this is going to be a fun tour, but people get bored out of their minds on tour after awhile – have you got any ideas about how you’re going to pass the time? Prank anybody, go do something stupid?
(laughing) We’re not shy about a party or ten, so I don’t think boredom will be a problem.